Friday, 29 September 2017

Google Drive File Stream - Coming Soon!!

Google Drive File Stream is a service provided by Google that allows you to access, save and work on files from Google Drive on your computer. It looks like a USB drive on your computer and it works like one - except you don’t need to carry anything around with you.

There are many benefits to using File Stream, including the unlimited amount of storage available and the ability to access your files anywhere at anytime. File Stream is being implemented across the Trust over the next few weeks, and you will be notified when it is ready for use at your school.

There are two training videos available to help you get started using Google Drive File Stream. The first video is aimed at anyone that isn’t yet familiar with Google Drive, this video shows you how easy it is to use this new drive opposed to using your memory stick - the process of saving files is pretty much the same!

Click the image above to play the video Google Drive File Stream - Part 1 - Ditching the Memory Stick

The second part video shows how an existing user of Google Drive can use File Stream together - for en easier and accessible way to store and retrieve their files.

Click the image above to play the video Google Drive File Stream - Part 2 - An Addition to Working on the Web
File Stream is a very useful service that will hopefully bridge the gap between a team of people that have different ways of working. Some staff already use Google Drive and share files and folders and others still use Staff Shared. Google Drive File Stream is a stepping stone between the two, as it means that people still used to storing files on external or PC drives can still follow the same procedure, yet they are storing their files in a place that it accessible to everyone in the team and can be accessed at home too.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Mozilla Thimble - the best way to understand HTML is....

Although when we talk about coding we often think students need to learn programming languages, getting to grips with the HTML (hypertext markup language) that is used to build the World Wide Web is probably one of the most useful and engaging places to work.

When I need to make a website, my current tool of choice is the new Google Sites setup because although it limits what I can do in many ways, it gets the job done and makes a multi-page site with all of the clutter behind the scenes that I shouldn't have to worry about taken care of. With the old Google Sites though I had the ability to dig underneath and manually add my own HTML code in to get the result "just so" - and that knowledge of learning to code in HTML has been incredibly useful to me. That's one reason, when we talk about students learning to code, that I am so passionate about teaching how to write your own web and understand HTML. Even if all you do is tweak that YouTube embed code to make it the way you want it, the confidence to understand tags and muck about with them is really useful.

Thimble by Mozilla, is my favourite tool not just to teach coding in HTML, but also to actually hand code little bits myself (handy for knocking up an email signature for example).


The model is simple - on the left panel you can edit your code and on the right you see the page build itself live as you go.


The editor colour codes things, so if you make a mistake it generally does help you spot it (much easier than writing it in Notepad and then worrying you can't find your missing /> in your masterpiece.


The viewer updates as you type (although it is kind enough to let you finish a command before it updates the view as otherwise it would be very distracting to having it constantly flickering and changing as you type)

This view exposes the mistake I made with the size of the YouTube video frame

You can also set it to show the site as it will look on a computer screen or on a phone.


Finally, one thing that always has confused me with HTML is style sheets. Style sheets allow you to have one place where the presentation of your page is managed, and good practice is to not put too much formatting in the design itself as it is messy and complex to keep it up to date. I learned to code HTML before style sheets were a thing (yes, I am that old), so I've never used them, but Thimble makes yours for you and it is always there for you to go into and edit, and again as you change fonts, layout and colour the screen on the right adjusts in real time to give you feedback.

Thimble is free, you can make an account there and you can publish your pages from it. I perhaps wouldn't try to make a big multi-page site with it (but then, as I said, I'd just use Google Sites for that because life is too short).

If you don't know HTML commands but want to give it a try, it is useful to have a second tab open on your browser with a reference of some kind to all the commands you can use - there are many, my favourite is the W3Schools site.

iOS 11 new features

iOS 11 landed last week, and we've been putting it through its paces. Ignoring a couple of glitches that will soon be patched, it's a fantastic upgrade from 10 in our opinion - especially from a class teacher's point of view; and even more so when looking it at it through our Star Classroom lense.

Firstly, the Control Centre has been overhauled and combined with the App Launcher. Saves time, and also allows you to add your own buttons to the Control Centre. Nice.

Secondly, the Dock now has a space for recently used apps. Again, time-saving and far more practical especially when jumping between apps in front of a class. Speedy.

The best new features in our Star Classroom opinion? The ability to add markups to screenshots and photos. We are huge advocates of the importance of providing feedback to a class via the big screen at the front by using the iPad as a visualiser - but now with the ability to add markups, you can add written feedback to student's work on the big screen without needing the interactive board as your writing tool. Efficient.

Our latest training video is our first look at iOS 11 and looks in more depth at the above features, from the perspective of a class teacher. Well worth a look. More videos are on their way too, so watch this space.


Click the image to watch the video

For more information, or to arrange any eLearning training, contact elearning@dret.co.uk

Monday, 25 September 2017

eLearning for Everyone

Although our team does a lot of work in classrooms with teachers and students - it’s important to note that eLearning is useful for any role in the Trust. When technology is purposefully used, it can save you precious minutes or hours in a day and help you work more effectively.


Last week we issued a Governor Access to DRET Services video which demonstrated where to find key information and what services the Trust offers to help Governors in their role.
We hope this video will help someone working in a governance role or similar to find access to information quicker, gain access to useful training materials, communicate with others in the Trust better and get updated news.  


The key message here is that without seeing or knowing about the eLearning services available, you won’t get the chance to use them or benefit from them. The eLearning team has created lots of videos to help staff with eLearning tools. So, if you’re interested in finding a new way of working or becoming more savvy with IT - check out our Training Channel on DRET TV. We would also be happy to help talk through any of these services with you and recommend training sessions for you and your teams - you can contact us on elearning@dret.co.uk.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert

Microsoft Innovative Educators (MIEs) use Microsoft tools in the classroom and have learned the fundamentals of applying technology in education. 
This is the first step on an exciting journey of joining a professional network of enthusiastic educators who come together to learn, share, and grow.
Using Microsoft's online Educator Community, individuals can connect and collaborate, find training and lessons, and earn badges and certificates based on their achievements.

Here at DRET we have an increasing number of staff who have achieved the award of MIE which is fantastic, and great recognition of the skills our staff have.


Taking it further, Microsoft have an enhanced award called Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert:



Recognizing Innovation at Microsoft, we believe that technology alone cannot build 21st century skills in students. Technology is an accelerator, but alone it does not enable change. We believe in the power of the educator, and the impact educators can have when they are brought together and recognized for their achievements.

The Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Expert program is an exclusive program created to recognize global educator visionaries who are using technology to pave the way for their peers in the effective use of technology for better learning and student outcomes.

MIE Experts help Microsoft to lead innovation in education. They advocate and share their thoughts on effective use of technology in education with peers and policy makers. They provide insight for Microsoft on new products and tools for education, and they exchange best practices as they work together to promote innovation in teaching and learning.



There are only several thousand of these educators around the world and we are pleased to say that one of our Charles Read Academy teachers has been recognised by Microsoft and achieved the award.


Ms Burrell proudly wearing her OneNote cape!

An amazing achievement by Ms Burrell, and we would like to pass on our congratulations! 

Look out for a guest blog post from Ms Burrell soon detailing how she uses OneNote Class Notebook effectively in the classroom with her students.

If you would like more information on the MIE awards, click here. Google also has a series of awards - to find out about those, click here.
If you are DRET Staff and interested in achieving these external awards or in our own in-house awards, get in touch with the eLearning team or visit awards.dret.cloud

Fake News with X Ray Goggles

Understanding how the web is built, and that it is built by people is a vital part of digital literacy. The truth is something we need to find, not blindly believe from the first website in the search results.

The Idea

The idea of this activity is to help students understand the nature of news and information on the internet by presenting them with subtly different versions of web pages they may already know. As well as a good fun way to start to topic (Vikings Invade Northampton!) it can lead to discussion about how to cross-check information, a different kind of writing task where students rewrite popular websites and create highly credible stories of their own, or simply create engaging material to put old events into a modern context.

The original article: the class know they came third in the Winter Cup - they were there.

The doctored article, now the school walked away as winners.

The Tool

Mozilla X Ray Goggles is a very simple tool that allows the user to remix a web page. They present it as part of the Foundation's work on digital literacy and creatively remixing the web (and include some lesson materials).

At the website you bookmark the X Ray Goggles tool.



Once you've added it to your browser you can activate X Ray Goggles at any time on (theoretically) any website. Suddenly you can click on text to change it, click on images to change them. Having made your "alternative reality page" you could screenshot it to use the image in lessons, or simply have the edited page open in your browser at the start of the lesson.

How

Either in advance of the lesson, or during it, call up the web page and activate your X Ray Goggles  (it would be useful to follow that up by demonstrating changing the web page, even if the class don't then do it themselves).

Click on text and then start to edit the page.

Other ideas for using

This really lends itself to a writing activity (creative, reporting, persuasive all come to mind).

  • Perhaps students will change the adverts on a popular website to ones for products and copy text of their own.
  • News is a rich source of writing stimulus - perhaps redrafting their story onto several websites, and each time adjusting the style and tone of the piece to fit.
  • Creating "fake news" to run alongside another project or topic.


To find this and other teaching ideas and top tips, visit tips.dret.cloud

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

A feature on the features of our Featured Resources

We have previously blogged about our new Resource Library and it is gaining traction in our schools which is great.


The Resource Library is for DRET staff and students with a dret.cloud account, but those without such an account can still access our 'Featured Resources' pages. Each week we will feature some of the best resources that have been submitted by our talented teachers for the world to see.




This week's featured resource is an EdExcel GCSE History Unit on the American West, submitted by Miss Cooper of Malcolm Arnold Academy.


The folder is jam-packed full of lesson resources covering topics such as Billy the Kid, the Battle of Little Bighorn and The Gold Rush - 20 lessons of engaging content from a fascinating period of American history.




These resources are available for all!

To view these lesson materials, head over to resources.dret.cloud and click on the featured resources pages. Stay tuned each week as we focus on a range of featured resources submitted by teachers from across our academies.

If you have a dret.cloud account then all of our resources are available to view, download and adapt.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Challenge for eLearning



We value core professional development for all our staff - but we need more: we need something that allows the confident user of IT for teaching to really get to the next level and ensure consistently outstanding learning assisted by IT, and we need those people to help those around them too.

That was very much at the hear of Star Classroom and we've been fortunate to work with more than a hundred great people. Our Trust also runs a programme called Challenge for Outstanding (known as C4O) that has been really well received - creating communities of practice for people that are already confident and effective and want to develop further. So we have reviewed what we learned last year, and the best features of an already popular and proven programme to develop C4E or Challenge for eLearning.

There is a section of our staff professional development site for C4e and this week we're asking head teachers and professional tutors to consider who they may nominate. We're seeking staff that are already effective but who want to grow professionally, and who already have some skills in using IT but want to refresh or extend them.

The programme includes learning to use and apply all the tools we've featured here, within a community of practice that allows colleagues from different settings to share their experiences and ideas, try them and reflect on their impact.


Friday, 15 September 2017

eLearning Certification and Awards website is live!

Our latest service offering - eLearning certifications and awards - has a brand new website. Drum roll please.......We are pleased to announce the website is now live!

Watch this short video for a brief run-down of what's on offer and how to find it:

Click to watch the short video

And once you've given it a watch, head over to awards.dret.cloud to see what CPD is on offer for DRET staff. Some offerings are online courses, some are face to face workshops - something for everyone we hope.

Head teachers have been emailed further details, so if you are interested in eLearning CPD for you or your team - speak to them and get in touch with the eLearning team to take things further!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

DRET Teaching Resource Library deeper dive

A couple of days ago Guy posted an introduction to our new Resource Library. This post will hopefully give you more of an insight into what it is and how to use it.

This video should explain pretty much the basics to get started.

Plain and simply, DRET's new Resource Library is a collection of resources submitted by our Network of Star Classroom teachers across our academies which are downloadable and adaptable for staff and students across our academies.



The Resource Library can be found at resources.dret.cloud and you can search by subject, which then takes you to a page where you can search by Key Stage. From there, you can see what resources have been submitted and download anything you want to use/adapt.



You need to be logged in to your dret.cloud account to view the folders of resources. If you are not logged in, or do not work for DRET, you can see a collection of our featured resources on the page of the same name.

From the Home page you can also access our eBook library and DRET.TV as well.

We are hoping that others will now start contributing their resources, and there is a link at the bottom of the page for people to do so. As the library grows, we hope it to be one of the 'go-to' places in a teacher's arsenal of places to access lesson resources and content to enhance their teaching.
As primary subjects move to a common curriculum, the Resource Library is a perfect place for our teachers to share resources they have made to accompany the curriculum.

Click on the photo below to see our introductory video

Click on the photo to see the video
For more information please get in touch with the eLearning Team. If you are a DRET employee with a dret.cloud account, don't forget you can also access our training videos at training.dret.tv or our eLearning tips website at tips.dret.cloud



Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Google Keep

A few months ago we started blogging about Google Keep.



Google Keep is a fantastic app for note making, collecting thoughts, making to-do lists or reminders - and available on all your devices so you have them with you at all times, no matter where you are. Many people use Sticky Notes or similar ways to organise themselves - Google Keep takes it a step further.
Not only for personal organisation, but there are some fantastic ways Google Keep can be used in the classroom too - as it integrates with Google Docs, allows voice typing and inking on photographs, as well as acting as a roving classroom whiteboard.

In case you missed it, or are new to Keep. see all of our 'Week of Keep' posts and other Keep-related posts here. We still love it, and it is most definitely an app we use on a daily basis, both in and out of work.

Monday, 11 September 2017

The DRET Teaching Resource Library


Our teaching resources library is now open and continuously accumulating new material. Have a look at resources.dret.cloud. Ben will be doing a much deeper dive into how it works very soon, but this is a first look. If you aren't a member of staff at one of our academies you can see the site, but the folders with the resources in will appear blank - but you are able to see and use anything in the "Featured Resources" section.

As an organisation with 34 schools we have a lot of teaching resources.

The problem is how to make the best ones easily accessible.

Some lives on staff-shared drives at each academy, mingled together with admin material, resources that are for courses that no longer run and bought-in packs.

A lot lives on teacher's own laptops or external hard drives - and never get seen by colleagues.

What we're trying to do is make sense of all that and unlock the huge potential for time-saving and improving the quality of learning material in use.

We've started using Google Drive as the means of storing material (we did use Team Drive but the way permission to make changes is handled wasn't powerful enough) with a website front layer. That will allow colleagues that use Google Drive heavily to favourite particular folders and integrate the material with Google Classroom or Show My Homework. Happily, because of the way dret.cloud is built we have the ability to make the same material appear in other locations without doing a great deal of work, so we will add in new ways to get to the same content as we go.

Content can be used directly from the library although we imagine most teachers will take what they want, modify it and hopefully as they system matures, pay back by sharing their own materials to complement what's on offer.

Making a Go-To Resource Library presents a lot of challenges in terms of having enough material to launch - we've spent a year working on this.

Fortunately some colleagues had libraries of good content they really wanted to make available to all our schools - so we can provide a platform for that. We're also immensely grateful to the large number of colleagues who are in the Star Classroom project for opening their treasure trove of materials and sharing their greatest hits with us. As time progresses we will keep building and improving - systems like this are never finished and keeping the quality high and avoiding just copying across folder after folder of duplicate material is something to avoid.

Our primary schools started work this summer on a common curriculum plan for some areas. All the materials for that are being built into the resource library, so in the future when it covers all the primary age groups and several subjects, we'll be able to present it to people in a consistent and simple way.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Havelock Star Classrooms for Sixth


We're about to open our new Sixth Form centre at Havelock Academy. As with all the refurbishment and new build activity this summer from Bobby Moore Academy to new nursery provision to classrooms being refreshed, we've continued to roll out the Star Classroom design.

We now have five academies that are entirely fitted out with Star Classrooms in every teaching room - suddenly what was new in September 2016 is mainstream a year later!

New features in Class Dojo

We are HUGE fans of Class Dojo. We know our Star Classroom teachers are HUGE fans of Class Dojo - in both primary and secondary settings. So imagine our excitement at seeing the new features recently added!

The Class Dojo 'Toolkit' can be found in the app, and allows you to make random groups of students, display activity directions, turn on background music, use a noise meter, 'think pair share', plus a whole lot more.

Have morning work, a welcome message, or other announcements? Display these morning announcements as students walk in.




A noise level meter made just for your classroom. Show students the classroom noise visualized and encourage them to self-manage.



We are very excited by these updates and look forward to seeing it in use - a great tool just got even better.

If you are new to Class Dojo, you can find out all about it here. Star Classroom teachers can download the app for their Star Classroom iPad via the Self Service app store. DRET staff can see Class Dojo training videos via the DRET TV training channel on Freedom.

DRET also has Class Dojo mentors and ambassadors in it's midst - get in touch if you want more information, help or support with any of the features - old or new!




Thursday, 7 September 2017

First certificate issued!

We have been working hard over the summer setting up a series of eLearning Awards (a more in depth look at these will come in a later post) that allows us to run online eLearning training courses and issue certificates for face-to-face sessions; covering a wide range of eLearning CPD including eLearning tools, Online Safety and Data Protection.

Well, our first certificate has been issued! Congratulations to Miss King of Charles Read Academy who received the 'Google Drive Essentials' certificate today. There will be plenty more to come across our academies we are sure of that!



Head over to awards.dret.cloud to see our awards pages, or claim an award if you have recently attended an eLearning session.

Please get in touch with the eLearning team if you want to arrange a training session for your DRET Academy, or require further information.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Our eBook library

DRET staff and students have access to a wide ranging and ever-growing selection of eBooks at books.dret.cloud or via a tile on the dret.cloud page.

What's great about the eBook library is that it complements our physical libraries our schools have, and allows students and staff to borrow and read on any device - computer, tablet or phone. Be it homework help, revision, reading for pleasure or further reading around a topic, there is plenty for everyone - and all ages.

Through our eLearning CPD training sessions, we are working with teachers across DRET in ways by which pages from eBooks can be annotated, utilised in lessons and used to enhance teaching resources for both in and away from the classroom - a really valuable resource.

Take a look at this video which explains how to borrow books from our eBook library: any device, any time.

Click the image to see the video

This video is open to all for viewing. Our eBook library itself is only available to DRET staff and students with their dret.cloud log-ins.
DRET staff can view all of our videos on DRET TV at training.dret.tv

For more information please get in contact with the eLearning Team

Monday, 4 September 2017

Welcome to tips.dret.cloud

It's been a year since I started my role as an eLearning Lead with DRET, and what a year it's been! I've had the opportunity to lead on, and participate in, lots of training sessions, while visiting many classrooms and working with a host of talented teachers. It's incredible how you can show one example of how to use something new in the classroom, and subsequently see it being used and adapted a further dozen ways by different teachers. Throughout the year our team has been keeping notes on some of the best ideas we've come across, and we want to be able to share these ideas with everyone; thus, tips.dret.cloud was born.

tips.dret.cloud is essentially a scrapbook of ideas in one website. You can search for particular tools or areas of development you are interested in learning more about, and see how other teachers have used these tools to make a difference in their classrooms. There are also other resources, such as how-to guides, training videos, and useful links to get you started introducing it into your own classroom.




We will be adding new resources, tips, and case studies to the website throughout the next academic year, and can't wait to see more amazing ideas!

If you are using IT effectively in your classroom and would like to share your idea, please email elearning@dret.co.uk and we would love to add your story to the website.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Save Miles This Year click with Appear.In

At the start of the school year, if you travel from site to site, now is the time to resolve to change your approach and use video conferencing more to replace those journeys. We use video conferencing for our meetings and have found it invaluable for both replacing longer meetings with several shorter ones (because the effort required to get together is less, we can meet more often) and running extended meetings where we dip in and out of the meeting whilst working on something else - especially good when planning or working on material.

Here is a video from dret.tv showing how to use appear.in - a brilliant free video conferencing tool.

click to view

and from our archives... here is an article from last year on the use of video to link classrooms.



There are so many possible uses for simple video conferencing in class - whether it be to speak to another group of students, ask an expert or perhaps make a presentation to another group. Outside lessons use for webinars, meetings, moderation can all save effort, travel and create a useful medium of communication that is more than email and phone, but less than a face to face meeting.

What puts a lot of people off is the hassle and complexity of making video conferencing work well - first time and every time. Sound problems. Camera not working. One of the people can't get the software working...

We chose to use appear.in with Star Classroom because it is just powerful enough, and remarkably simple and reliable.

Powerful enough

Appear.In allows up to eight computers (or iPads or smartphones using the app) to join into a single online meeting with good quality audio and video (that steps down in quality when the connection isn't too good). It allows any of the participants to share their screen with the others. The paid-for version allows up to twelve participants and better quality.

Simple

All the system needs is for all the participants to go to the same web address using Chrome or Firefox or the app. The first connection requires you to give permission for it to the camera and microphone but that is it. Agree a time and all go to http://appear.in/mymeetingname and you're good to go.

The web version of Skype for Business looks good and works well enough, but has too many issues to get started reliably.

Google Hangouts has got better and better and now is about as simple as Appear.In (you now can just all go to meet.google.com and agree a meeting code in advance for everyone to use). Unfortunately the slightly better quality and ability to add more than eight people is balanced against an annoying habit of constantly switching which participant to show full screen, the swapping being very distracting if it becomes a five or six way meeting with everyone speaking frequently.

There are many uses for the webcam in the Star Classroom design other than video conferencing, but the fact that any wall-display can connect easily to any seven others opens up so many possibilities - it will be really interesting to document how people use them.

What's new for 2017-18

The new academic year is upon us, and the eLearning Team have been busy little beavers during the summer. We are excited for this year - check out this video made using Powtoon to see what's new in 2017!

click the photo to see the video


 For more information about anything in the video, please get in touch with the eLearning Team. It's going to be a great year!
DRET.cloud users can see all of our videos on the Training Channel of DRET.TV

Autumn 2017 News



Welcome back from the summer break - we hope you had a restful time and are ready for another academic year. Here are a few of the highlights of the changes for this year.

DRET.tv


We never expected the take-up of our video sharing site to be quite so good last year, but we're pleased to announce that we've been able to move everything over to a new system over the summer called Microsoft Stream. It is basically still the same idea, but there some new tools for the people that manage channels and everything is much more slick.

If you ran a channel you should have heard from us with details of how to access and upload material. If you're a viewer, hopefully it will be simple and obvious to use - you'll find the search feature works very well. Head over to dret.tv to see more (login required). If you aren't a member of staff or student at one of our schools you can dip into a selection of material at featured.dret.tv

Tips for Teachers



Last year we have several websites and places where you could go to find teaching resources and ideas - including this blog. As the collection grew we realised we needed a place to find everything - which is our Training and Tips website (tips.dret.cloud). All the material there is open to anyone, and includes help videos and ideas.

Learning Resources Library


One of our longer term projects is to gather together all the best teaching material from all of our academies together into one place where any member of staff, or indeed student can access it. So much stuff sits on shared drives in one school, or on a teacher's laptop gathering digital dust. Collation is not as easy as making a website to put everything on of course... but a good selection of material is now available at resources.dret.cloud (again a login is required to view actual material, however as we feature materials on this blog we will make some available at featured.dret.cloud).

IT Support

The start of term is a busy time. As a gentle reminder to staff and students at all our academies, please place requests for any kind of IT help to itsupport@dret.co.uk. The system will do its best to place your issue with the right technician automagically and we will ensure it gets dealt with promptly.

Coming Soon

  • We've been working on a lot of staff development material and planning this summer which we'll be announcing over the coming weeks. If you'd like a sneak preview you can have a look at awards.dret.cloud
  • Pen Drives and External hard drives will no longer be allowed on our systems from the end of the year, we've prepared support material to help those who still depend on them to make the switch.
  • There's been a lot of "plumbing" happening to get our internet filtering to be less intrusive, more effective and to allow us to spot potential at risk behaviour before it becomes serious. We'll be sharing some articles highlighting how the system works.



Saturday, 2 September 2017

Operations Team Training: Google Drive and Meetings


We met with our new Operations Team members yesterday as part of the switchover to shared services across our academy network. Operations staff are now working in a situation where they want to collaborate more closely across schools and make the very best use of the technology available to us in dret.cloud to get better work done more easily. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly we focused on appear.in for working across the miles more easily and the many tools in Google Drive that will help such as document and folder sharing, revision history and assigning tasks and notes within comments.

Rather than rewrite everything said, I thought this blog post from Yasmin last term would be a useful set of tips and ideas to share as a follow up:
The process of holding a meeting can become very long-winded, from organising the agenda to writing up the meeting minutes and distributing, and then the process after whereby everyone starts to feedback and share the outcome for the actions they were set. You can end up having multiple email chains, attachments saved in emails which you have to go back and locate, and it’s usually the host that has to keep track of everything that’s going on.
Using Google Drive and Docs for meetings can make the whole process much simpler - from creating the agenda to finishing the assigned tasks. It means that everyone that is part of the meeting can make their contributions simply at a time that suits them, without having to go through another person to add the agenda item to the document, or having to email everyone that was at the meeting with a copy of their work, which can get lost easily.
The following short video takes you through the workflow of how to make the process of holding a meeting quicker and much more effective for everyone involved, by using Google Drive and Docs to collaborate on documents and creating a shared space to collate and share work.

Click the image above to view the video

Star Classroom Video

2016-17 was a really busy year - we were fortunate to have the chance to get together with some colleagues at Greenfield's Primary School to look back and pick out some of the key features of the Star Classroom programme and made a short film about it.


Of course if you've found the video on this blog you're in the right place to get much deeper into what Star Classroom is all about - and there is more than we managed to get across in those few minutes.

  • We've made quite a strong statement about what we think is the right good value set up for one of our classrooms, and after a year and more than 150 installations we haven't changed our mind (we have in fact tried a few different approaches but keep coming back to the simple concept of a big touchscreen, a hidden PC and an iPad).
  • Vitally important is the training and professional development network to go with it. Without a doubt that is what is making the greatest difference. The section with the headteacher about two minutes in says it all.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Google Earth updates

We have some exciting things planned with regards to exploring the world from the comfort of the classroom - more to follow on that over the next few weeks - but one really useful addition to any classroom device is the updated Google Earth.

A few months ago this major update arrived on Android but it has recently been added to iOS too meaning iPads can receive the update, and it looks a great one.

It's a 64-bit app meaning it will be supported when iOS 11 arrives. A major new feature is the 'Voyager' feature which allows you to see interactive stories from destinations around the world and gives virtual tours of places around the world - great to reinforce Geography or Topic lessons with visual images and 360 degree flyovers!


There are a myriad of uses for this application in the classroom, and coupled with the other plans we have in the pipeline, up our sleeves and in development for exploring the world without leaving the classroom, it looks like it's going to be a great year for the explorers out there! 


If you are a DRET Star Classroom teacher you can install the app via the Self Service app store on your iPad. The app is free and available via the Apple App Store for all iOS devices.